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No Second Stimulus Bill Is Coming Soon, Pelosi Says

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) leave a meeting in the U.S. Capitol.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) leave a meeting in the U.S. Capitol. (By Chip Somodevilla -- Getty Images)

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By Ben Pershing
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 13, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that a second economic stimulus package is not "in the cards" in the short term, disappointing those seeking another quick infusion of federal money into the struggling economy.

Pelosi's statement came less than a month after President Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus measure into law and on the same day the administration warned state officials gathered in Washington that it will keep a close eye on how they spend the money allotted to them from that legislation.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) helped nudge the idea of another stimulus Tuesday when she said that Congress should "keep the door open" to the possibility. And House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) said this week that he will begin "preparing options" for a second stimulus package.

But Democratic aides have cautioned strongly that another such plan is not a serious possibility in the short term, and Pelosi said yesterday that she "really would like to see this stimulus package play out" before contemplating another one.

"I don't think you ever close the door to being prepared for whatever eventuality may come," she said at her weekly news conference but emphasized that a second package is "just not right now something that's in the cards."

Some prominent economists have suggested that a second stimulus measure, costing several hundred billion dollars, may well be needed. Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's who has become a key adviser to House Democrats, said this week that "policymakers need to do more. I don't think we're done. . . . I think another stimulus package is a reasonable probability, given the way things are going."

The Wall Street Journal's most recent forecasting survey, a poll of 49 economists, found that more than 40 percent of respondents thought a second large stimulus package is necessary to jump-start the economy.

But several key Democrats have said they do not like the idea of another package so soon, and congressional Republicans -- who almost unanimously opposed the first stimulus bill -- have even less appetite for a second. "I think the fact that they are already talking about stimulus two indicates they already think stimulus one has failed," suggested House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.).

Pelosi said that Congress has passed or would pass measures beyond the first package that would help create jobs, including the $410 billion omnibus spending bill that Obama signed Wednesday and the massive highway reauthorization bill the House will take up this year.

Pelosi said that a supplemental spending measure may be necessary to cover the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but otherwise, "my preference is that any appropriations that we do henceforth be in the regular order, under the regular hearing process, markup and the rest."

She said she expects that economists and others might continue to promote the idea of another stimulus package "but not from my initiation."

The debate over a second plan comes as the money from the first is only beginning to trickle into the economy.

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